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New Policy Brief: Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration

DWN Blog - April 20, 2015 - 13:16

DWN’s new policy brief, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, examines the inappropriate use of deterrence as a rationale for immigration detention. In light of the recent lawsuit RILR v. Johnson, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, provides a broader context of the use of deterrence in immigration detention as a misguided practice of an overall system that seeks to punish and criminalize immigrants.

The lawsuit filed by the ACLU, UT Law School and pro bono Counsel challenges the deterrence-driven no release policy for detained mothers and children with positive credible fear interview determinations (that is, families who the government has found are likely to get asylum once they go through full proceedings). Deterrence as a specific consideration during supposedly individualized custody determinations marks a new level of aggressive and inappropriate use, and it is currently affecting many asylum-seekers, not just families.  

The root of this idea, that you can punish people to stop them (and others) from seeking safety, disregards constitutional protections and the United States’  international obligations. Deterrence has no place in our immigration detention system and is certainly no justification for depriving people of their liberty. 


Wednesday April 1 in #Newark #NJ: Screening of “Detention Stories: Life Inside the New Angel Island”

DWN Blog - March 30, 2015 - 11:56

JOIN US FOR A SCREENING OF

DETENTION STORIES: LIFE INSIDE CALIFORNIA’S NEW ANGEL ISLAND

& Discussion of an Upcoming Project in New York & New Jersey

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is proud to release Detention Stories: Life Inside California’s New Angel Island, a documentary film series that explores the social and cultural world inside California’s immigration detention centers through individuals who are in the best position to describe it: men and women in detention. Come learn about the history of immigration detention in California from the early 1900s to the present and about how you can get involved with our upcoming stories project on immigration detention in New York and New Jersey. 

Date: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 (6:30 PM – 8:30 PM)

Location: Rutgers University, The Martini Foundation Lecture Hall,

123 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102

 Lights refreshments will be served.

 Presented by: Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) in partnership with First Friends of New Jersey, American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program and Rutgers University Immigrant Rights Collective are excited to host the screening and discussion. This documentary film series was produced by CIVIC and made possible with support from Cal Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Cal Humanities or NEH. Experience more at calhum.org and endisolation.org.

Agenda: Come meet the producers, filmmakers, and storytellers. Special presentation by Will Coley, the Producer and Founder of Aquifer Media and the lead producer of Detention Stories: Life Inside California’s New Angel Island. Learn about immigration detention in New Jersey from Sally Pillay of First Friends, which operates visitation programs at New Jersey Facilities. Alix Nguefack, Detention Coordinator at American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program will share policy update on immigration detention in NJ. You will also hear from a former detainee.

This community screenings is free.

A tax-deductible donation to CIVIC is highly suggested.

www.endisolation.org/donate


New ICE Policy Caves to Radical Anti-Immigrant Lawmakers, Needlessly Restricts Release from Detention

DWN Blog - March 19, 2015 - 16:19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, 19 March 2015

CONTACT:

Brett Abrams : 516-841-1105 : brett@fitzgibbonmedia.com

 

DWN: “New ICE Policy Caves to Radical Anti-Immigrant Lawmakers, Needlessly Restricts Release from Detention”

Detention Watch Network Calls on President Obama to Stop ICE’s Escalation of War on Immigrants

 

Statement from Silky Shah, co-director of Detention Watch Network, in reaction to ICE’s announcement that it would dramatically ramp up oversight and release procedures for immigrants with criminal convictions:

This announcement is not the result of reasoned policy analysis. Rather it was released the night before new ICE Director Sarah Saldaña was to testify before Congress and represents a preemptive surrender to its most zealously anti-immigrant members. Decisions on immigration policy and the detention of immigrants should never be based on crude political calculations.

During the hearing, lawmakers repeatedly mischaracterized all people in detention with criminal convictions as undocumented and as violent offenders. This ignores the reality that many long-term legal permanent residents are also detained and further that the proportion of people deported whose most serious crime is a non-violent immigration offense or traffic violation has risen significantly over the last six years.

For the minority of people in detention who have past violent convictions, the prevalent anti-immigrant discourse constantly obscures the fact that they’ve already paid their debt to society by serving out their prison terms. We believe that even immigrants who have committed violent offenses shouldn’t be subject to double jeopardy by being incarcerated again for the same offense.

The list of people with no hope of release in US detention centers is growing at an alarming rate: immigrant families, asylum-seekers, and now individuals with prior criminal convictions. Detention, with no alternatives or way out, for such a huge number of people who pose no safety risk to their communities is an outrageous violation of human rights and an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars.

It is increasingly disheartening that the White House, and President Obama continue to pursue and double-down on a failed, inhumane and increasingly punitive response to immigrants and their families living and working in the US.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-announces-enhanced-oversight-and-release-procedures-custody-determinations

For interviews, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at brett@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

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Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.


DWN Slams Inhofe Amendment to Senate Trafficking Bill

DWN Blog - March 12, 2015 - 13:58

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, 12 March 2015

CONTACT:

Brett Abrams : brett@fitzgibbonmedia.com

DWN Slams Inhofe Amendment to Senate Trafficking Bill As Massive and Unconstitutional Escalation of US Detention Program

Detention Watch Network Says Proposed Inhofe Amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act Would Threaten All US Non-Citizens with Indefinite & Random Detention

Statement from Mary Small, policy director of the Detention Watch Network, on Senator James Inhofe’s (R-OK) proposed amendment (Inhofe 275) to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act:

“Simply put – Sen. Inhofe’s amendment is unconstitutional, a waste of taxpayer dollars and unfairly denies immigrants basic US civil rights – like a day in court. Inhofe’s amendment seeks to punish US immigrants who have been leading productive lives for years – in a cruel, and abusive use of federal policy – all without any meaningful judicial review.

Sen. Inhofe’s amendment would dramatically intensify and escalate immigrant detention nationwide, and grant DHS extraordinarily broad powers to detain non-citizens in the US for indefinite periods of time.  

We urge Congress to reject Inhofe’s amendment and work to reform our broken immigration system that needlessly detains thousands of immigrants.”

For interviews with the Detention Watch Network, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at brett@fitzgibbonmedia.com.  Interviews available in English and Spanish.

 

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The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.


DWN Statement: Obama Budget Harms Immigrants by Funding Increased Detentions and Monitoring #EndtheQuota #ExposeandClose

DWN Blog - February 3, 2015 - 19:43

For Immediate Release: February 3, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

Analysis: Obama Budget Harms Immigrants by Funding Increased Detentions and Monitoring

WASHINGTON, DC — The White House announced it’s proposed budget for the 2016 financial year. In response, the Detention Watch Network released the following analysis of how the budget could affect detention levels in the coming year.

The new White House Budget would:

  • Increase funding for immigrant detention to $2.4 billion, up from $2.2 billion in FY2014.
  • Bring the total number of detention beds to 34,040 – 40 beds above the congressionally-mandated detention bed quota.
  • Increase funding for ICE Custody Operations by $435.392 million, including 2,760 family detention beds and a 741 bed increase in adult detention. This increase in detention is alarming given the President’s executive action, which should instead result in reduced detention numbers.
  • Provide $122.5 million in funding for “Alternatives to Detention,” ATD, increasing by 29,807 the number of people under this program. Rather than using ATD to decrease the number of people in detention, this budget instead supplements immigrant detention by expanding the system of custody and surveillance to those who would otherwise have been released.

Statement from Detention Watch Network Co-Director, Silky Shah:

“We are disappointed to see the Obama Administration doubling down on their mass detention policies for immigrants. President Obama’s funding request for an arbitrary and predetermined number of detention beds, many to be filled by families and children, reminds us just how morally and fiscally ruinous this system is.

No one should be held behind bars to meet an arbitrary quota set in Washington by politicians– and President Obama should be ashamed of his role in this ongoing tragedy.”

For interviews with the Detention Watch Network in English or Spanish, please contact Molly Haigh at 907-750-1999 or molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

 

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The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.


Faith Leaders Denounce Private Prison’s Use of Chaplain to Whitewash Record of Abuse #ShutDownStewart #ExposeandClose

DWN Blog - January 12, 2015 - 12:15

Photo By: Steve Pavey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Monday, 12 January 2014

CONTACT: Brett Abrams : brett@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Faith Leaders Denounce Private Prison’s Use of Chaplain to Whitewash Record of Abuse

Open Letter to Corrections Corporation of America Laments the Use of Staff Chaplain to Hide Treatment of Immigrants Detained at Stewart Detention Center in Georgia

GEORGIA — In December, faith leaders and immigration activists from around the country were strongly disappointed to read an op-ed titled “Report of nightmarish detention untrue,” penned by Corrections Corporation of America chaplain, Rev. Joseph Shields, and published in The Hill as a response to the article “Living Nightmare for Detained Immigrants in Georgia” by Azadeh Shahshahani.   In response, faith leaders have addressed an open letter to Rev. Joseph Shields and the Corrections Corporation of America, calling on the corporation and the facility’s chaplain to “stand on spiritual authority, alongside the unjustly detained children of God, and against any actor, who dehumanizes, commodifies or mistreats those entrusted to his spiritual care, including his employer.”

VIEW THE LETTER HERE: http://wp.me/p2x3o2-oA

Advocates from Georgia Detention Watch in conjunction with faith leaders across the country argue that Rev. Joseph Shields, as representative of the Corrections Corporation of America, presented a grossly inaccurate portrayal of the conditions at the Stewart Detention Center in southern Georgia, and attempted to use his religious title to whitewash the facility’s historic record of abuses towards immigrants detained solely for civil proceedings.

The open letter, addressed to the Corrections Corporation of America, and signed by faith leaders argues that “perhaps the greatest disservice perpetuated by the detention facility’s spiritual spokesperson is that he attempts to silence the growing voice of dissent coming directly from inside the belly of the very place where he is called to minister to the suffering, not defend the powerful.”

The letter goes on to explain that, “…the conditions at Stewart are far from safe or humane. Those detained are speaking out and nonviolently resisting. Through direct interviews, correspondence and limited media coverage, we continue to hear of detained immigrants at Stewart condemning such degradations as the use of solitary confinement, denial of contact visits, lack of basic hygiene, inadequate mental and medical healthcare, insufficient and sometimes inedible food, substantial burdening of their religious liberty, and a coercive labor program, where the corporation gets the detained immigrants to perform labor for 1 to 4 dollars a day. Immigrants who file a grievance about their treatment are likely to face retaliation from the guards.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: georgiadetentionwatch.com

 

For interviews with immigration advocates or faith leaders, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at brett@fitzgibbonmedia.com



My Experiences at the CCA Operated Stewart Detention Center #ShutDownStewart #ExposeandClose

DWN Blog - January 5, 2015 - 15:36

By Eduardo Zuniga.  Zuniga currently resides in Mexico City.

I was shocked and appalled to read the December 9, 2014 op-ed, “Report of nightmarish detention untrue,” by Rev. Joseph Shields of Stewart in response to the article “Living Nightmare for Detained Immigrants in Georgia” by Azadeh Shahshahani.  The picture painted of this prison by Rev. Shields, an employee of the Corrections Corporation of America, bears no resemblance to my experience at Stewart.

I was detained at Stewart from January to June 2011.  I crushed my toe and twisted my leg while working in the Stewart Detention Center’s kitchen for sub-minimum wages, and both injuries were undertreated.

Due to a shortage of special shoes, I was told that I would have to work in my regular shoes.  My first injury came from a cooler dropping on my foot, which shattered my toenail.  The medical personnel refused to remove the shards of my nail from my toe. They only gave me over-the-counter pain medication, antibiotics, and instructions to apply ice to my toe. The toe became infected and extremely painful.  I eventually had to remove the shards myself.

I injured my knee about a month later when I slipped on water on the kitchen floor. I was not allowed to get medical help for three months.  The nurses and medical staff called me names like “crybaby” and “little girl.”  The medical staff issued me one crutch despite the fact that medical records indicated I was supposed to receive two.  My armpit became bruised and blistered. I missed meals for two days because I had to rest my arms and couldn’t get to the meal hall without the crutch.  In at least one instance, guards threatened me with “the hole” if I did not get up and get back to work despite medical orders to rest.

Now back in Mexico, I continue to experience pain in my knee and am not able to engage in physical activity like I used to.

I was not alone in the indignities I suffered while detained at this prison. I routinely witnessed other men being denied adequate medical and mental healthcare, hygienic conditions, or adequate food.  As just one example, almost every time chicken was served to us, it was undercooked.

Guards were frequently verbally abusive.  When I was in a pod that housed several elderly men and those with physical disabilities, I witnessed guards come up behind a blind man who spoke no English and suddenly yell at him, in English.  These verbal attacks were not in response to anything the man had done.

Hearing about the hunger strike by dozens of detained men at Stewart over the summer because of maggots in their food and other violations of their human rights made me sad and angry. Knowing that fellow human beings continue to suffer at that prison while Corrections Corporation of America continues to spin its publicity machine and makes millions in profits is intolerable.

It is time to shut Stewart down.